Tag Archive | "ozone hole"

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Will We Use an Agreement to Save the Bees?

Posted on 23 August 2016 by Jerry

Scientists report good news about the closing of the ozone hole at the South Pole. Fortunately the human species banned chlorofluorocarbons with the Montreal Protocol that was signed September 16, 1987, almost 30 years ago by 25 nations. Over 165 nations are now a party to the agreement. A couple of recent articles in this blog cite progress made by the US with China and India (see http://iamaguardian.com/1849/u-s-and-india-to-reduce-use-of-hydrofluorocarbons/ and http://iamaguardian.com/1542/the-more-we-understand-ozone-the-less-we-know/ ).

Susan Solomon of MIT led the team that evaluated the ozone hole in Septembers of multiple years. As reported by National Geographic in June of this year, “Solomon’s team found that, in recent years, the hole is not eclipsing the 12-million-square-kilometer threshold until later in the southern spring, which indicates that the September hole is shrinking. In fact, the researchers believe the ozone hole has shrunk by more than 4 million square kilometers. Furthermore, the hole is not as deep as it used to be.”

Human beings have used their chemicals and banned some of them to right ozone wrongs they committed. Can we, will we do it again to save the bees? Can we convince or mandate through law that select businesses will no longer use banned chemicals to hurt the bees? Can we ban or severely limit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides (insecticides based upon the use of a chemical similar to nicotine)?

An article appeared in the New Scientist in July of 2016. It said, “Exposure to neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide widely used on crops, reduced the percentage of viable sperm in male honeybees (drones) and also shortened the insects’ lifespans, according to a study published today (July 27) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.” The study observes that the queens of the colony collect sperm from the drones and store it for future fertilization. If the sperm is bad the future reproduction is compromised.

Shell and Bayer both developed these insecticides. Chemical companies around the globe now sell them. In addition, as of 2011, Bayer, Syngenta, Sumitomo Chemical, Nippon Soda, and Mitsui Chemical made derivatives of these products. These products are now widely used for instance in the U.S. where they are used on 95% of corn and canola crops, most cotton, sorghum, sugar beats and about half of all soybeans. In addition they are used on the majority of all fruits, vegetables and nuts.

An article in Nature magazine was published online in August of this year said as follows, “In 2013, the European Union imposed a 2-year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids to protect both domesticated and wild bees. This moratorium is scheduled to be formally reviewed in 2016, although exemptions to this ban have already been implemented in the UK.”

In addition the article continued, “Our results provide the first evidence that sub-lethal impacts of neonicotinoid exposure can be linked to large-scale population extinctions of wild bee species, with these effects being strongest for species that are known to forage on oilseed rape crops. These results support the findings of previous studies on commercially bred pollinators that have identified the underlying mechanisms affecting mortality. This study extends existing evidence from a limited number of model species to the wider community of bees found in agricultural landscapes. These findings provide an important contribution to the evidence base underpinning the current moratorium on the use of this insecticide in the European Union.”

In an article on this blog last year (see http://iamaguardian.com//?s=bees&x=0&y=0 ) we described the value of bees to all of us. We said, “Feral bees, or the other 3,999 species in the U.S., are dying.  Feral bees are the large majority of bees.  They are often solitary, stingless and ground nesting.  Estimates place the annual value of all bees in the U.S. Economy at between $14,000,000,000 and $20,000,000,000.”

We continued, “This is because they are a key pollinator of hundreds of plants we depend upon.  These include beans, tomatoes, onions, carrots, oilseeds, sunflowers, fruits and plants such as clover that our livestock are dependent upon.  Another way to estimate the value is to recognize that one out of every three bites of food you take has some dependence on bees.”

So the question is should we seriously restrict or ban entirely the neonicotinoid pesticides? Should this be another Montreal Protocol? Should we find the countries beyond the European Union to support a worldwide ban? The answer is yes!

We should begin our quest to save the bees and ourselves by banning production of the offending chemicals. We should write to our president or presidential candidates to have them initiate the international cooperation to save our bees and ourselves. We should insist that this effort be taken in our name to save the future agriculture needed to feed the world.

Use the following links to access additional information or articles used to prepare this article.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/antarctic-ozone-hole-healing-fingerprints/

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36674996

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6296/269

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/despite-volcanic-setback-antarctic-ozone-hole-healing

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/46652/title/Pesticides-Reduce-Male-Honeybee-Fertility–Study/

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1835/20160506

http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12459

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/bee_collapse_co2_climate_change_agriculture/2991/

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1835/20160506

 

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U.S. and India to Reduce Use of Hydrofluorocarbons

Posted on 06 July 2016 by Jerry

The United States and India reached a far ranging agreement. President Modi of India and President Obama of the U.S. met at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday June 7, 2016. Continuing the world’s progress on replenishing the planet’s ozone, the two countries agreed to modify the Montreal Protocol for India to have an earlier beginning to stop use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) in its air conditioners.

This would change a clause in the Montreal Protocol that specifies a much longer phase-out period for the air conditioning and refrigerator chemical for developing countries that include India. The expectation is that India’s sale of air conditioning and refrigerators will grow significantly matching the growth of the middle class in India. India’s middle class is expected to burgeon in the near future as a sign of India’s growing wealth.

An article in the June 7, 2016 Washington Post states, “India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, and HFCs have a global warming power thousands of time greater than carbon dioxide.” It was mentioned in earlier articles on this blog (http://iamaguardian.com/1542/the-more-we-understand-ozone-the-less-we-know/ )( http://iamaguardian.com/1067/are-we-trading-greenhouse-gas-for-ozone/) that there was a loophole in the Montreal Accord and that HFCs are important for control of global warming as well as the disintegration of ozone.

Progress in eliminating the loophole of the Montreal Accord would come from an amendment to the Accord itself. Modifying the agreement will happen in October of this year in Rwanda. That is the next time countries that are parties to the Montreal Accord will meet. This amendment would also provide funds for developing countries included in the loophole to get a new generation of air conditioners and/or refrigerators for their use.

Another important reason for an agreement between the two countries is that the commitments made recently by countries fighting climate change do not go into effect without 55% of global emissions being represented by countries ready to ratify the agreement. India agreed to ratify the agreement. This agreement puts them over the 55% goal with India’s 4.1% of global emissions and puts these commitments into effect.

As a major architect of this climate change agreement we constructed the agreement to go into effect by going over the 55% goal. This means the U.S. or Obama can now ratify the treaty without congressional involvement. It is then clear the U.S. will now ratify the agreement.

A Guardian article that appeared on June 7, 2016 stated, “Though the two countries said engineering and site development work was starting on six nuclear reactors that US-based Westinghouse Electric Co wants to build in India, there was no agreement about the major unresolved issue: cost and financing. Instead, the countries said only that they had agreed to finish the contractual arrangements by June 2017.

The Washington Post article of June 7, 2016 about the nuclear reactor issues further stated, “On the nuclear power front, Westinghouse Electric (now owned by Toshiba) has been negotiating with India in the hopes of selling it six AP-1000 nuclear reactors. The project site was recently moved to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where site preparation is underway.”­

The same article further said, “Westinghouse and General Electric’s nuclear arm have been striving to reach a deal with India for more than a decade, and in 2008 Congress approved an agreement to promote nuclear cooperation with India, which critics said undermined half a century of U.S. nonproliferation efforts.”

As can be seen from these reports the Modi/Obama meeting was superbly timed to accomplish multiple objectives. This shows that the Obama administration’s timing is impeccable, knocking off multiple objectives in a single meeting.

In one fell swoop we made significant progress in both the areas of ozone depletion and climate change at a cost of some support for nuclear power in India. This shows we have an administration that is continuing to make progress against some big objectives. We should be heartened by this progress and be optimistic about our future.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents used in preparation of this article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/obama-and-indias-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/2016/06/07/9cb5bb72-2cc0-11e6-b5db-e9bc84a2c8e4_story.html

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-modi-seek-to-rapidly-implement-climate-deal/article/2593199

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/06/world/asia/india-narendra-modi-obama.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/25/statements-president-obama-and-prime-minister-modi-republic-india

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/07/india-paris-climate-deal-barack-obama-narendra-modi

http://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/obama-and-india’s-modi-pledge-future-deal-on-climate-and-energy/ar-BBtYJ6n?srcref=rss

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-usa-climate-idUSKCN0YT22U

 

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Disagree (and Agree) With Stephen Hawking

Posted on 26 January 2016 by Jerry

Dr. Stephen Hawking, professor and research director at Cambridge University’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, has expressed his belief that technology will be our undoing and will bring new ways for things to go wrong and end humanity’s future existence. Hawking said at a teleconference in Hong Kong, “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.” He made substantially the same statements in response to questions when recording the BBC’s annual Reith Lectures on January 7, 2016.

He said that he believes our only hope is to spread out in space and colonize other worlds. He believes that it will take at least 100 years to establish a colony on another world in our solar system and the next 1000 years to spread to other solar systems. Our objective must be to establish self-sustaining colonies that are independent of our home planet Earth. This is because he believes we will kill ourselves on planet Earth and we need to be self-sustaining elsewhere for humanity to survive.

While we agree on the threats, we must be a pessimist about the space options and an optimist that human beings on this planet are taking the steps necessary for us to survive. We must support space colonization because of the knowledge we gain about surviving in hostile environments. We cannot believe we can colonize other solar systems. We cannot believe that colonies can support more than a few thousand humans, certainly not any real fraction of the seven plus billion population of the world.

Dr. Hawking has reliance on the science fictional development of a technology that allows our speed to approach that of light. The author sees no practical approach that permits us to significantly increase our speed.  This Hawking suggestion represents his ‘hail Mary’ pass about the future.

In our book, Beyond Animal, Ego and Time, it is shown it would take 18,000 years at 150,000 miles per hour, our current rate of maximum speed, to reach the nearest star. Even if you triple or quadruple this speed the time to reach the star dwarfs our ability to maintain life in outer space by a large margin. The book is explicit about our practical isolation in the universe (see Chapter 4 about travel to Alpha Centuri C).

Those readers who have the book Beyond Animal, Ego and Time or follow the blog www.iamaguardian.com know that the writer has warned about these hazards specifically with the exception of artificial intelligence. The author has warned about climate change, nuclear weapons and genetic engineering/synthetic biology. While we have also warned about the ozone depletion of the planet’s atmosphere, we have recently written blog articles about asteroids and meteors hitting the earth. On these threats there is agreement.

Although the writer wishes it were not so, he is not the fatalist that Dr. Hawking is proving to be. The outcomes we fear, while all legitimate, must be solved soon by us before our worst fears come to pass. There is certainly no option to wait for a century to solve these problems. The climate change outcome is dependent upon what humanity does in the next decade.

All of these problems should be dwelt with in the next few decades. We must have faith there is a solution to each of these hazards that has been spelled out in the blog articles over the last four years or so.

The only one we have not dealt with is the meteor strike on our planet and this too can be solved. We can interrupt the trajectory of a meteor or asteroid that we know is coming toward us. So far we are making too little an effort to identify these objects and are making no effort to learn how to modify trajectories. We just need to get going.

We must stay the course on each of the threats we face. None of them involve quick or easy fixes. We cannot give up as Dr. Hawking suggests. We can be fatalistic but not in his way. We must believe human beings will confront each threat and solve the underlying problems. We should believe in ourselves to triumph over problems we have created or we can foresee.

Use the following links to access additional information or the source documents used to support this article.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/13293390/ns/technology_and_science-space/t/hawking-says-humans-must-go-space/#.Vp6tixHSalU

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/scientific-progress-a-disaster-hawking/news-story/deadb3343090a1e679c6795cee076d32

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/28/stephen-hawking-humanity-1000-years_n_7160870.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3406751/Hawking-Threats-human-survival-likely-new-science.html

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Will the Paris Climate Meeting Make a Difference?

Posted on 24 November 2015 by Jerry

We know this September was the hottest it has been since the year 1880 and that 2015 promises to be the hottest year on record. We also know that the World Meteorological Organization has said that 2016 will be the first year when the carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere will average over 400ppm (parts per million). We have measured the 2015 ozone hole over Antarctica and know that it is the third largest ever observed. It is only eclipsed by holes in the years 2000 and 2006.

We know that planning for the climate change conference in Paris the nations of the world have committed to an amount of greenhouse gas emissions that go over the two degree Celsius limit. The two degree Celsius limit is believed necessary to keep the world’s average temperature at a safe level. They have committed to 2.7° C. The commitments now in hand converted to Fahrenheit are a 4.9° increase and are insufficient.

As a world, at the end of 2015, we will pass the average of one degree Celsius (or 1.8°F) warmer temperature measured since pre-industrial times. This places us as halfway to the 2°C level so frequently talked about.

Even while missing the two degree Celsius limit, cynics point out a number of reservations about the commitments. They first object that the commitments are not real. They were designed to solve other problems as a matter of expedience. These commitments are being repurposed to be for climate change.

The biggest case in point is the commitment from China. They claim the smog over Peking had become so bad the reduction they are committing to is really to eliminate smog in Peking. They point out that China has not cut back on its plans for additional coal fired power plants. They state that getting electricity for the entire country is their primary objective and they will not let this year’s commitment get in the way.

The cynics point out that commitments that span decades can easily be changed along the way. While optimists believe the freedom to change them means they will increase the commitments and achieve their goals earlier, the naysayers suggest they will only weaken commitments as the years pass. Critics say we cannot wait long enough to see because it will be too late to stop an additional rise in heat.

The final big criticism is that many of the commitments that have been made are conditional upon assistance the developed countries will provide to underdeveloped nations. Fully 25% of the world’s commitments are tied to receiving aide from developed nations. The underdeveloped nations are saying they will reduce their greenhouse pollution to a certain level if they receive a certain amount of help from a fund established by developed countries.

So far the potential donor nations must live up to providing the $100 billion per year by 2020 in climate financing to which they have committed. Unfortunately, in lots of areas nations are behind in living up to their commitments to fund various efforts. For example, the Congress of the U.S. for years was late in funding the United Nations.

A gross example is India that has committed to reduce its carbon intensity per unit of gross domestic product by 33% – 35% by 2030 compared to its levels of intensity shown in 2005. This is tied to its commitment to source 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources consisting largely of renewables and other low-carbon sources by 2030. This commitment will be achieved after it receives $2.5 trillion from the developed countries over the next 15 years. This $2.5 trillion is their estimate of the amount of money they will have to spend to change their energy infrastructure and plans in order to hit their targets.

So the biggest question that remains is “Is there still time?” This is the most difficult question we have. If you look at our average temperature rise we are halfway to our two degree Celsius limit. Should we be looking to the Paris conference to settle all issues or should we be looking at more decades of questioning?

The answer will probably be that there will be more questioning. There are reasons however to be hopeful. We may be seeing tipping points that are good news and should give us optimism that people will do the right thing to save our planet over the long haul ahead.

The Pew Research Center released its November 2015 World Survey of 40 countries (45,435 respondents) that shows a clear majority response to the question ‘Do you support or oppose your country limiting its greenhouse gas emissions as part of an agreement at the 2015 Paris conference?’ All nations of the world (except Pakistan) responded with their majority support for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The majorities were not small across the countries. Most were greater than 65%. Only Poland, Turkey, Palestinian territory, Indonesia, and South Africa had majorities less that 65%.

In addition, in order to reduce the ozone hole, countries that were parties to the Montreal Protocol of 1987 agreed to take under management the reduction of substitutes for CFCs or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are ozone friendly replacements that are used as refrigerants. Unfortunately, many of the HFC replacements are also very powerful greenhouse gases.

The use of these powerful greenhouse gases has risen as the world replaces the ozone killing CFCs with HFCs. The agreement of the Montreal Protocol countries to extend their management to include HFCs is a boon to fighting climate change. This is in addition to continuing their efforts to reduce the ozone hole. So far these countries have proven effective and tireless at attempting to shrink the ozone hole.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it has adopted new rules for the use and management of HFCs. The Department of Defense also has announced plans to use alternate chemicals at some facilities and on its ships. Both of these efforts will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

There is also a report that President Obama has 81 U.S. large companies that have signed a pledge committing at least $180 billion to fight climate change. These companies include Intel, Johnson and Johnson, The Hershey Company, Levi Strauss, Nike, and Siemens.

These are all encouraging events that we hope are positive tipping points that indicate more progress in the future. Where human beings are involved, there will always be a good chance that we will do what is right. No matter what happens at the 2015 Paris Climate conference there are hopeful developments that indicate trends that should increase our optimism. We must continue our pressure to make progress on climate change. We cannot afford to give ground and must succeed if we want planet Earth to be a livable habitat.

Use the following links to obtain more information or see the original source documents used to prepare this article.

http://www.nature.com/news/the-week-in-science-30-october-5-november-2015-1.18711 (scroll to second item)

https://www.wmo.int/media/content/large-antarctic-ozone-hole-observed

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/us/climate-change-us-obama/index.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/14/un-climate-change-summit-paris-planet-future-balance-science

http://www.livescience.com/10325-living-warmer-2-degrees-change-earth.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/141001-two-degrees-global-warming-climate-science/

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-negative-carbon-dioxide-atmosphere.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/09/worlds-climate-about-to-enter-uncharted-territory-as-it-passes-1c-of-warming

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34763036

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/global-warming-passes-1-degree-mark-as-el-nino-builds-20151109-gkutqc

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86869

http://www.nature.com/news/combined-climate-pledges-of-146-nations-fall-short-of-2-c-target-1.18693

http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/11/05/global-concern-about-climate-change-broad-support-for-limiting-emissions/ (access pdf of entire report)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/03/indias-climate-pledge-critically-important-says-un-climate-chief

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/02/india-pledges-40-percent-electricity-renewables-2030

http://www.bna.com/indias-global-climate-n57982059082/

http://www.nature.com/news/india-unveils-climate-change-pledge-ahead-of-global-talks-1.18489

http://www.indiagazette.com/index.php/sid/237774359

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Ozone Progress but India Pollutes China, U.S.

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Jerry

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, effective a little over 25 years ago has been labeled the most successful international agreement in history. Since the banning of substances that destroy the ozone in the upper atmosphere, we have seen concrete improvement or slight shrinkage of the Ozone Hole over the South Pole.

The agreement banned substances used in refrigeration (air conditioning, freezers, etc.) to do away with the ozone hole. Unfortunately, many of the substitutes, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while sparing the ozone, “have a substantial global warming potential.” So says a July 31, 2015 article released by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD).

The article speaks to efforts to get the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), the group of nations that have been meeting to monitor the original Montreal agreement, to take on the management of the elimination of the HFCs. This would put these parties directly in the middle of the climate change problem.

What gives this move its impetus in part is a working paper issued by the IGSD that says that a quick elimination by 2020 of these HFCs could prevent half a degree of world temperature rise by the year 2100. This is viewed as a significant contribution to progress of efforts to control global warming.

Once again there was disagreement over how best to tackle the issue. Whether it was best to deal with the HFCs in this group or give the issue to those organizations fighting climate change. The last few meetings of this group showed promise when several nations changed their positions. Led by India these countries put forward proposals to confront the problem. Pakistan however, blocked adoption of any one of the four different plans presented by stating that none of the substitutes for the HFCs would be an effective refrigerant against the heat in their country.

At the same time a report published in Nature magazine in its August 10, 2015 issue blamed pollution wafting across the ocean from India and China as the reason the West Coast of the U.S.A. has not made any progress in lowering the ozone pollutants in its atmosphere.  Citing the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory that undertook the study, Nature reported that this Chinese pollution was the reason the Western states of the USA showed no lessening of its atmospheric pollutants after reducing its production of ozone-forming pollutants by 21 percent between 2005 and 2010.

NASAs JPL said in its release that “Scientists from the Netherlands and from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California looked at ozone in the mid-troposphere, about 10,000 to 30,000 feet (3 to 9 kilometers) above ground level….In the mid-troposphere, ozone has a measurable greenhouse effect.”

Finally, scientists have reported on the Nature Geoscience web site on February 16, 2015 that they have discovered that a very short-lived substance, less than six months, is a significant contributor to the destruction of ozone. This article says, “Halogens released from long-lived anthropogenic substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons, are the principal cause of recent depletion of stratospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas.”

Their research results, “Show atmospheric levels of dichloromethane, a short-lived chlorine substance not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, are rapidly increasing. We conclude that potential further significant increases in the atmospheric abundance of short-lived halogen substances, through changing natural processes or continued anthropogenic emissions, could be important for future climate.”

We are seeing unprecedented success to keep the benefits of our ozone depletion fighting efforts. In fact, the choices our scientists have selected are contributing to climate change and they are being pressed into service to start helping with climate change as well.

At the same time we see that our world is interdependent. Our weather and the continued effort are worldwide phenomena and our responsibility. We see that India pollutes China that in turn pollutes the West Coast of the U.S. We also understand there is another chemical that needs to be covered by the Montreal Protocol in order to continue our progress against ozone destruction.

We must not forget the ozone depletion and the danger an ozone hole represents to life on earth. We must continue our forward movement. We must also continue to support those scientists and countries that are fighting to protect our ozone.

Use the following links to access additional information or the original documents used to formulate this article.

http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/hfc-negotiations-under-the-montreal-protocol-inch-forward

http://www.mepielan-ebulletin.gr/default.aspx?pid=18&catigoryld=12&articleld=215&article=montreal-protocol-inches-closer-to-negotiations-on-hfc-phase-down (Scroll down on right to this article)

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n9/full/ngeo2493.html

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2015-263

http://phys.org/news/2015-08-china-exporting-ozone-pollution.html

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n3/full/ngeo2363.html

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